The Hope of the Resurrection
I Peter 1: 3-9
In the depressing days of the viet Nam war, Phil Caputo had perhaps the most traumatic job of all – his job was to count the dead and verify their identity. He says that he became so used to death that he could literally look into the eyes of the living and tell you what they would like dead.
Our privilege as Christians is exactly the opposite. The bible says that non believers are spiritually dead – but as Christians who have our hope founded in the resurrection of Jesus Christ we can look them in the eye and envision what they would look like if they were full alive in Christ. We have the privilege of bringing hope to the hurting.
For many people Easter is just another holiday about bunny rabbits and hunting easter eggs or a fairy tale they don’t believe. For believers in Christ, Easter means the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. It means the promise of life after death because Jesus conquered the grave.
The resurrection is the supreme miracle of Christianity – it is at the heart of the faith. If it never happened, Christianity collapses into mythology and billions of people have been deceived. If it did happen, it authenticates everything Jesus did and said. The Apostle Paul said it this way in I cor. 15:17: “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless.” So it’s a pretty important matter.
If Christ didn’t rise from the dead, then we’re just wasting our time here every Sunday. The resurrection is the most important event in all of history.
Let’s see why its’ so important.
I Peter I: 3-9
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (NIV)
At the time of this writing Peter was an old man. A disciple that had been through multiple battles. He had sorted through life and discovered there were some things not worth fighting over and there were other things he was willing to die for. One of those principles worth dying for was this: the living hope of the resurrection.
Christians have a living hope because of the resurrection.
Not just a cheery optimism but a hope based on a historical fact that Jesus died and rose again and promises that those who believe in him will do the same.
There are a number of things I will never hear:
Shawn – soloist sick could you fill in
Carole – looking a little skinny, you need to put on a few pounds.
Chip – if I am looking a three foot put; Chip will never say: just pick it up – that’s good.
One thing I’ll never hear from God: Tom, there is no hope for you. The resurrection gives me hope.
Our very hope for the future is rooted in the truth of the resurrection. It is one of the reasons the early Christians changed the primary day of worship from the Sabbath to the Lord’s Day – every week is a celebration of the living Lord.
How does it give us hope?
Helps us overcome the Scars of the past
Some of you are feeling the weight of yesterday’s failures. Dreams have disappeared – life has not turned out the way you thought it would. You have crossed a line you thought you would never cross. The past can be an albatross around our necks. It can weigh down our heart and take away our joy.
Some of you are still suffering over an event that happened years ago. It bruised you physically, emotionally and sometimes spiritually.
Maybe it was A betrayal a bad decision a loss an accident a missed opportunity
dozens of you in this congregation are struggling with issues like that.
If that heavy situation is because of sins in your own life, God says to us that he stands ready to forgiven anything that has happened.
If the pain was not due to your sin but to someone else’s sin or just to the circumstances of life: Isaiah 43:18 says: “forget the former things, do not dwell on the past, see, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up, do you not perceive it.”
Life is to short to waste our time fretting over things that cannot be changed. We can visit the past but we can’t live there.
Helps us overcome the Problems of today
We all have problems we have to deal with. When those are solved, new ones arrive. There will never be a time when you are problem free until you are received into God’s heaven.
Jesus had to deal with the greatest problem of history – how to forgive the sins of mankind. He suffered as no one has before or since. The agony of an innocent person dying for someone else is overwhelming. How could he stand it? The humiliation, people spitting in his face, the flogging of the whip, the crown of thorns, the slow suffocation of crucifixion.
Hebrews 12:2 actually tells us how: “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Endured it because he knew it was temporary – he knew the resurrection was coming – once he passed through the pain – joy was coming.
In this life there are many times when the problem just doesn’t seem to end:
The illness continues to linger
The disappointment keeps reappearing
The thorn that won’t be removed
How do we cope? We know it’s only temporary. We have the living hope of the resurrection. As long as we have hope we can maintain our optimism and faith in God. When hope is gone:
Joy departs and frustration sets in
Bitterness, anger and hatred take over
Life turns sour
Our ultimate hope is not in an immediate solution to our problem – in fact things may not get better, they may get worse – our hope is that God says I will not leave you nor forsake you and will walk with you through your problems until one day it will all be over and you will enjoy the benefits of the resurrection body. He guarantees us an eventual solution to our problems.
There are times all we can do is hang on. Space mountain. Small compartment, dark, belted in, jerks you around – sudden dips – breakneck speed – sudden stops – when it ends people get out smiling.
Helps us overcome the Fear of the future
There is a lot of fear in the world today. National fears: Fear that America is going to turn her back on God and follow the path of ancient Israel. There is fear that the economy will fall apart and we will go bankrupt as a nation. There is fear that the social security system will not be there for our children. There is fear of terrorism invading our shores again. There is fear of a rogue nation using a nuclear weapon.
While it is possible that any or all of those things may happen, as a believer in Jesus Christ, we cannot live in fear.
Personal fears: will I have health issues: financial issues; will I have a job will my children grow up in the faith Perhaps the greatest fear of mankind is death.
Even the most skeptical among us still have a glimmer of hope that the Easter story is true—that Christ has been raised from the dead. Ray. Kurzweil is a brilliant scientist, inventor, author and a man who is greatly influencing thought about humanity’s future, particular as it relates to the rapid increases in the power of computers. His specialty is artificial intelligence and transhumanism. He has been featured in numerous magazines including the cover of Time magazine with an article titled, “2045: The Year Man Becomes Immortal.” Ray Kurzweil claims no religious affiliation; no belief in God. And yet Kurzweil hungers for immortality. When asked if God exists? He responded: Not yet but we will create him because even geeks want to find God somewhere.
One of the motivations for his life’s work is the dream of resurrecting his dead father. In the Feb. 2009 issue of Rolling Stone, he said that he was trying to construct a genetic copy of his father from DNA taken from his grave. This is his dream. He hopes not only to avoid death himself, but also to reconnect someday with his dead father by somehow resurrecting him through the wonders of science.
It is a shame that Ray Kurzweil, this brilliant scientist and thinker, is not able to relax and believe the good news of Easter. Christ has provided a way for him to be reconnected with his dead father. And it has nothing to do with complex algorithms. It is real, as real as life itself.
In II Tim. 1:7 the Bible says: “for God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power and love and self discipline.”
How can we possibly live like that? Because of the resurrection of Jesus, we know that those who believe in Him will live forever.
Story: 3 men talking about how they wanted to be remembered when they died. What would you like for people to say when they walk by your casket? He was a great businessman – very successful – built a prosperous company. 2nd: he was a great family man – loved his wife and kids – close relationship; 3rd says: this is what I want them to say: hey look, he’s moving!!
What will life be like 100 years from now? We don’t have any idea but we know it will be vastly different from today. 100 years ago in 1912 the life expectancy was 48 for men, 51 for women. The divorce rate was 1 in 1,000. National debt was 1.1Billion; 95% of births took place in the home; 90% of physicians had no college degree; the leading cause of death was pneumonia and influenza. Life has changed.
One thing we know for certain: 100 years from now we’ll all be dead – then what. Hebrews 9:27 says: “just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”
When our friends on earth on saying goodby; our friends in heaven will be saying hello. You and I will be resurrected. The reason I know that? The Bible says that just as Jesus was the first fruit of the resurrection, we too will be resurrected to the fullness of life with Jesus in heaven.
How can I know for sure that I will be resurrected with Jesus?
Admit we are guilty Rom. 3:23
Believe the story Rom. 10:9
Confess our sins I John 1: 9
Live in faith Hebrews 11: 6